Tag Archives: charlottesville

celebrate summer with local beer, local music [giveaway!]

A few weeks ago I received an email with the subject “Does Bella like beer?”. Well yes, Bella does like beer, and so I opened that email and kept on reading. In it, a very nice woman named Stephanie asked if I might like to visit an award-winning local brewery for a complimentary tour and tasting. She also asked if I thought the followers of Bella Eats might be interested in reading about that visit, and then submitting a comment on that post for a chance to win a pair of tickets to two separate music festivals in Virginia. Well gosh that all sounded like a lot of fun and, while product promotion and giveaways aren’t very typical in this web space of mine, I really liked the idea of reviewing a local company and hosting a giveaway that supports local music.

And that is how, a flurry of emails later, Brian and I found ourselves driving west out of Charlottesville two Sundays ago. Our destination, Devils Backbone Brewing Company, was recently named Champion Brewery and Brewmaster in the small brewpub category at the 2010 World Beer Cup. They also earned one gold medal and three bronze medals for individual beers entered in the same competition, and last year brought home four medals from the 2009 Great American Beer Festival. With stats like that, the not-even-two-years-old brewery had been on our “things to do/see in/around Charlottesville” list for good reason.

The brewmaster, Jason Oliver, has over 14 years of brewing experience and 15 medals for beers he’s brewed. We were lucky to have a semi-private tour of the brewhouse scheduled with Jason, who is incredibly knowledgeable about his craft and patient with those of us who are not. He took us through the entire process, from steeping barley in water to fermenting with yeast to flavoring with hops. We were able to try several types of barley from a handful of different countries so that we could see for ourselves how different grains influence the final flavor of the beer we drink. It was fascinating, and very enjoyable. If you live in central Virginia, or are planning to visit the area, I highly recommend scheduling a tour of the brewhouse at Devils Backbone Brewing Company.

[thank you Brian for the above pictures of Jason and me]

After our tour Brian and I found our way to a couple of stools at the long copper-clad bar. DB Brewing Company has 10 beers on tap at all times, 4 that are brewed year-round and 6 rotating seasonal beers that are created by Jason. We decided to split the sampler, and Jason lined up our ten samples alongside a menu with their descriptions. The beers ranged in color from the champagne-toned Azreal (my favorite) to the cola-dark Inspirado (Brian’s favorite).

They were each unique, some were surprising, all were quite good. The Wintergreen Weiss, a Bavarian-style hefeweizen, had my attention, as well as the Gold Leaf Lager. But the Azreal…oh, the Azreal (aka Gargamel…a little Smurf reference for you). Fruity on the nose and the tongue, so easy to drink yet nearly 8% alcohol…that one is dangerous, and I loved it. Brian’s favorite, the Inspirado, was also excellent with its deep, dark color and rich, fruity flavor.

If you’re in the area, make the drive out to Nelson County to visit Devils Backbone Brewing Company. Take the tour, try the sampler, stay for lunch. And be sure to go home with a growler or two. DB Brewing Company beer is available on tap at a few restaurants around Charlottesville, but the only way to take it home with you is to get it straight from the brewery.

Many thanks to Jason and Devils Backbone Brewing Company for hosting us, and to Stephanie for setting it all up!

Music Festival Tickets Giveaway!

Devils Backbone Brewing Company is hosting two music festivals on their Concert Grounds at Devils Backbone, the Brew Ridge Music Festival and The Festy.

Bella Eats is giving away one pair of tickets to each music festival!

You have three opportunities to win tickets:

  1. Leave a comment on this post specifying that you are interested in winning the tickets and which festival you would prefer to attend.
  2. Become a friend of both BRTMF and The Festy on Facebook and leave a second comment on this post telling me you’ve done so. (Honor system here folks!)
  3. Follow The Festy on Twitter and leave a third comment on this post telling me you’ve done so. (Again, honor system!)

Post comments by Friday, August 13th. I will pick the winners using a random number generator and announce them on Saturday, August 14th. Good luck!

Brew Ridge Music Festival: The second annual Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival is an all ages event featuring top musical artists and sixteen local beers on tap. Scheduled for Sat, August 21 at the Concert Grounds at Devils Backbone (Nelson County, VA, 45 miles from Charlottesville), Cerberus Productions, 106.1 “The Corner” and the Brew Ridge Trail members are thrilled that this year’s festival will be headlined by Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. Additional confirmed acts include Devon Allman’s Honeytribe and William Walter & Co. For overnight accommodations, Wintergreen. Gates open at noon, rain or shine. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival.

One winner will receive two Taphouse Tent tickets, which include admission to the festival and (8) 4oz beer tasting tickets!

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The Festy: The Infamous Stringdusters, The Artist Farm, Cerberus Productions and Devils Backbone Brewing Company present The Festy Experience, a 2-day camping festival over Columbus Day weekend (Oct 9 & 10) at The Concert Grounds at Devils Backbone in Nelson County, Virginia (45 mi. from Charlottesville). Hosted and curated by The Infamous Stringdusters, The Festy Experience will celebrate and combine the best in live music, outdoor sports and lifestyle, craft beer culture and raging good times.

In addition to two nights with The Dusters, confirmed acts include Railroad Earth, Josh Ritter, Toubab Krewe, The Tony Rice Unit and a slew of musically diverse acts that embody The Festy Experience spirit.

Wanna festy, but don’t wanna camp? Weekend day passes are available, but bypass couch surfing for the Wintergreen Resort Experience. All rooms booked at the Wintergreen Resort in association with The Festy Experience will receive an exclusive 20% off.

One winner will receive two tickets to The Festy!

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two local meals [and a side of cornbread]

December 1st…what? How did that happen? November rushed by as if being chased by a ticking time bomb and I have no doubt that December will disappear just as quickly. We’re coming up on the end of another year, one that I am not so sad to see put behind us as I hope for a happier 2010. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some really fabulous experiences in 2009 that I hope never to forget, many of them being food-related and therefore blog-related, and two of those having happened in November.

I’ve been meaning to write this post since the 9th of last month, after an especially wonderful evening spent with dear friends at a favorite Charlottesville restaurant, and one week after an afternoon spent with the same friends at Double H Farm outside of Charlottesville. On both occasions we were immersed in a local food nirvana, surrounded by the people who produce a good portion of the food served on our household table and others who support their efforts.

What follows is a pictorial tour of both events with some notes on the experiences. I feel that this post will be most enjoyed by those who live in the Charlottesville area and have no doubt eaten pork or eggs or arugula from Double H Farm, had a conversation with Richard and Jean at the Farmer’s Market and perhaps even participated in one of the Local Food and Spirits Nights hosted by Maya. But I hope that my non-local readers will enjoy it as well, and possibly be prompted to explore similar opportunities in their own localities.

And, way down at the bottom of this post, there’s cornbread.

Double H Farm

Many, many thanks to Richard Bean and Jean Rinaldi for inviting us to their home.  Double H Farm (which stands for Happy Hearts) provides sustainably raised pork and vegetables to Charlottesville-area restaurants and individual consumers.  Richard is one of the only true butchers left in our vicinity, cutting meat on his farm after the pigs have been slaughtered at a licensed, USDA-inspected facility as required by Virginia law.  You can read more about his process here.

The Berkshire hogs roam freely on a portion of the 32-acres at Double H Farm.  They are curious about visitors at their fence and will come up to say hello if you’re careful not to make sudden movements.

The chickens at Double H provide some of the best eggs I’ve ever tasted.  Their yolks are a deep orange and add a luxurious texture to baked goods.  The birds are free-roaming; their pen and hen houses are moved by tractor every couple of weeks to a new, fresh piece of land.

Goats.  So cute, so friendly.  I won’t tell you about their fate as I prefer to think of them happily frolicking around their pen with the Great Pyrenees dogs that act as their protectors.

I just adore the spicy bite that arugula lends to salads and soups, and Richard and Jean grow some of the best around.

One of my favorite veggies – collard greens.  I am a southern girl, after all.

Maya : Local Food and Spirits Night : November 9th, 2009

Each month Maya hosts a Local Food and Spirits Night.  The restaurant offers a 5-course menu created using only locally-sourced ingredients, each course accompanied by locally-produced spirits. And, even better, the farmers, winemakers and brewers who make this special evening possible are invited to the event so that they may share and discuss their practices with the rest of the guests.

Every item on the menu was local except for the sherry vinegar in the salad dressing and the pecans on the salad. The farmers and winemaker featured at the dinner we attended (along with their contributions) were:

Richard Bean of Double H Farm – pork shoulder, sausage, greens, cornmeal

Megan and Rob Weary of Roundabout Farm – vegetables

Peter Hatch of Monticello Gardens – vegetables

Tom Silliman of Sweet Dog Farm – poultry

Rag Mountain Trout – trout

Gabriele Rausse of Gabriele Rausse Winery – wine

With its dim lighting, exposed brick walls and tiny tea lights on the long community tables adorned with festive autumn leaves, the warm ambience of the upstairs dining room at Maya provided the perfect backdrop for the southern-inspired meal we were served.  Outside the air was brisk but inside our bodies were warmed by a subtly smokey white bean soup with andouille sausage, chicken, kale and broccoli.  This first course was paired with the Gabriele Rausse Bianco, a white table wine composed of 90% viognier grapes – my personal favorite – aged for five months in French oak barrels.  This course fought hard to be my favorite of the evening, but in the end was over-shadowed by the braised pork shoulder.  I guess I’m just a sucker for Double H Farm pork.

While enjoying a salad of autumn lettuce, smoked trout, radish, apple and pecans, we learned about the history of the Gardens at Monticello and Thomas Jefferson’s experimentation there.  Megan and Rob Weary of Roundabout Farm described their sustainable farming practices and their appreciation of Peter Castiglione and Christian Kelly, owners of Maya, who once explained their desire to own a restaurant that “brings [local] food in the back door to sell out the front“.

The evening continued with more wine from Gabriele Rausse and delicious food from the kitchen.  We enjoyed chicken breast rolled with smoked ham, served with collard greens and an appalachian cheese sauce as we heard Tom Silliman of Sweet Dog Farm discuss the joys and challenges of running his family-owned farm and just how he had raised the chicken on our plate.  Our party agreed that the third course of braised pork shoulder with mixed greens, gnocci and crumbled bits of bacon was the highlight of the evening, and cheered for our friend Richard as he expressed the importance of eating locally and asking the right questions.  “Where does it come from?  How was it raised?  You’ve got to ask!”

We finished the meal with warm apple tart tatin and the Collage dessert wine; our bellies full, our minds slightly fizzy and our mouths exclaiming that we’d be back again soon.  For sure.

Cornbread, for me, is one of the most comforting recipes to make when the weather turns cold.  This particular recipe I made with eggs and white cornmeal from Double H Farm and chives from our own garden. Its quite good with a bowlful of piping-hot chili on a frigid evening, a not-so-bad way to welcome Winter and a new year.

Cheddar Chive Cornbread

adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese (this will very based on the strength of your cheese.  I used 1/2 cup of cheddar, and wish I’d used more)
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, minced

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425*F.  Butter a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened.  Fold in the melted butter. Fold in the cheddar and chives.
  5. Scrape batter into greased baking pan, tilting pan to level.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Let the cornbread cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes.  Invert the pan to release the cornbread and slice into 9 pieces.  Serve warm.